January 24, 2011 in City, News

Policemen honored for response to bomb scare

By and The Spokesman-Review
Jonathan Brunt photo

Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick honors Sgt. Jason Hartman, Sgt. Chuck Reisenauer and Sgt. Eric Olsen at the Spokane City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. The men led the police effort on Jan. 17 to redirect the march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and evacuate a portion of downtown in response to the discovery of a bomb.
(Full-size photo)

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Background and the latest updates

The search to find the person who left a “lethal” bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. march has entered its second week without federal authorities able to identify a suspect.

Frank Harrill, special agent in charge of the Spokane office of the FBI, said investigators have received numerous photos and video taken Jan. 17 of the area around Washington Street and Main Avenue but nothing that essentially solves the case for them.

“We have received a large amount of still and video data from the public that has been very helpful,” Harrill said. “I just don’t know yet where all that might lead.”

Meanwhile, three Spokane police sergeants were honored Monday for their efforts to quickly divert thousands of marchers to a new route and for their other work that day.

Officials labeled Jason Hartman, Chuck Reisenauer and Eric Olsen as heroes for their work and gave them a standing ovation at a City Council meeting Monday.

“You’re seeing in real life what leadership is,” Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick told the council. “These sergeants were the leaders that day who handled the immediate response (and) made executive-level decisions right on the spot that made a difference.”

Authorities have characterized the bomb as a sophisticated device that was placed in a manner that would have had maximum effect against the marchers, who were rerouted following its discovery. Three workers from the Spokane Public Facilities District, which runs the Spokane Convention Center, found the backpack containing the bomb and quickly notified police.

The bomb was described as having a remote triggering device and shrapnel that could have caused multiple casualties.

So far, the FBI and Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force have not yet issued a search warrant as part of the investigation into what Harrill earlier described as a thwarted attempt at domestic terrorism.

“There are not public enforcement actions and no subject or group that we are in a position to publicly name,” he said.

In an interview Monday after they left the council chambers, the three police sergeants downplayed their actions and noted there were around 25 officers working at the scene.

“Every day in this city, Spokane police officers, both men and women, do outstanding police work. This just happened to be that we were the ones there,” Reisenauer said. “We’re not heroes. We were doing our job. That’s what we’re paid to do. That’s what we’ve been trained to do.”

The three people who found the bomb still haven’t been named or publicly thanked. Shogan said they were unable to attend Monday’s meeting. Kirkpatrick said they will be honored later.

Hartman praised the Public Facilities District workers and said their actions should serve as an example.

“We heavily rely on the public to report things,” said Hartman, who came up with the alternative march route. “Somebody could have just ignored this and said, ‘This isn’t a big deal,’ and we could have had tragic results.”

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